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of Rome? How is it that every vender of error and nonsense, under the name of religion,—no matter whether he manifestly prostitutes the genuine old revelation, or impudently professes to have received a new one from heaven,-succeeds in enticing members from nearly every religious communion in Christendom? How is it that, with every breath of censure that blows, no matter how polluted,—and with every apple of discord that is thrown, no matter how guilty the hand that has flung it,—multitudes are continually finding some new cause of dissatisfaction with the profession they have embraced? How comes it to pass that, when the cry of liberty is raised, even though by one who has scrupulously availed himself of every opportunity of proving himself a despot, numbers, who have long rejoiced in their freedom, and exulted in their privileges, suddenly find out that they have been but miserable slaves, crushed to the dust and trampled upon? How happens it that, when the demand is virulently made for church-reform,-and most virulently by those who, if they examined themselves as closely as they test others, or knew themselves as well as others know them, would find enough at home, in the way of reformation, to absorb their attention, and to tax their utmost ingenuity and prowess and perseverance; and who, until this self-reformation is sincerely and vigorously commenced, are far more disposed and qualified to pollute than to purify, to injure than to improve, to ruin than to reform, whatever they lay hands upon,-how happens it that the demand is fiercely seconded by a crowd of professors who are as ignorant of the faults which are censured, as of the reforms which are proposed? And how shall we explain it, that, carried away by the mere ad captandum cry, they all at once begin to reproach, as guilty of crimes and excesses to which no language can do justice, and for which no corrective and no punishment less than starvation can be adequate, the very Ministers under whose word they have long sat with professed profit and delight, and of whom, till just now, they have been wont to speak in terms of highest admiration and love ?—and that they suddenly assail with execrations, as though it were “full of all subtilty and mischief,” that very system of which they have so long and so loudly boasted before the world, and which, till yesterday, they seemed unable sufficiently to eulogize ?—and that, from a communion in which they have over and over again prayed that they might live and die, they angrily withdraw themselves, and rush they know not whither, and they know not why, unless just because grievances, which they have never felt, are not redressed, and changes, which they have never carefully pondered, are not immediately effected, and demands, which they have never understood, and which they can never justify, are not granted forth with? It is easy to answer these questions. We cannot doubt that, of those who are thus “ tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” -while some are persons who have lost their religion, and who are unable any longer to endure the restraints of a scriptural and godly discipline,—there are many more who, in their choice of their profession, had no motives at all, or were actuated by unworthy motives. The result is just what might have been anticipated in the case of those who joined a body of professing Christians from mere impulse, without pausing to consider with whom they united themselves, what purposes that union implied, and what duties it involved ;-just what might have been expected in the case of those, also, who connected themselves with a certain section of the church, simply because it was fashionable so to do, or because their ancestors were
for no better reason connected with it, or because such a connexion promised to augment their wealth and influence.
To all who are convinced that it is their duty to unite with the people of God, and are disposed to yield to that conviction, we venture to suggest that it is most desirable for their own sakes, and for the sake of the body with which they may be associated, that they should decide as soon as may be, but thoughtfully and prayerfully, and, if possible, finally ; in order that, while they bear true affection toward all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, they may always, without fear, shame, or wavering, take their own position, knowing the sufficient reasons for which they have taken it, and prepared to assign those reasons on any fitting occasion. The times in which we live demand this decision of character; and we seem to be rapidly approaching a crisis in which we may have to give stronger evidence of our decision than has latterly been required.
METHODISM IN FORMER DAYS. No. XLII.-JOHN HAIME, AND THE ARMY IN FLANDERS.*
(To the Editors of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) Several letters are inserted in Mr. Wesley's Journal from John Haime, some of which give an account of the work of God in the army. Two letters are also published by Mr. Whitefield from Haime's comrades, John Evans and William Clements.t “ Twenty of our brethren from Flanders,” says Mr. Charles Wesley, “ dined with us at the Foundery, and we rejoiced at the distinguishing grace of God towards them.”
The following unpublished letter came to the hands of Mr. Charles Wesley, he being resident at the Foundery while his brother was at Newcastle, “visiting the sick and the Societies in the neighbouring country."$ The letter bears the post-mark of March 18th, and is docketed by Mr. Charles Wesley, “Success in Flanders." City-Road, October 10th, 1850.
Bruges, March 6th, 1745. DEAR BROTHERS,—Having received so many instances of your
love and friendship,-of your sincere regard for the promulgation of the Gospel, and for the eternal good and welfare of my soul,- I think myself in duty bound to acquaint you, that Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all who will believe, is daily offered in this garrison with great success. Our number daily increases, and the Lamb smiles upon our meetings. The cross is borne with the greatest fortitude, [inasmuch as we are] strengthened by the invisible operations of grace. In short, the work is carried on throughout the army in a surprising manner.
The little flock in Ghent || flourishes, and they have almost a perpetual * Two editions of “God's Dealings with John Haime ” were published ; namely, 1785 and 1803. See Southey's third edition of the Life of Wesley, vol. ii., pp. 32—44.
+ Dated, Ghent, February 16th, 1745 ; Ghent, March 8th, 1745. Christian History, vol. vii., No. 2, pp. 75–80.
See Charles Wesley's Journal, vol. i., p. 407. $ Wesley's Works, vol. i., p. 489.
ii In bis letter to Mr. John Wesley, he says, “Our Society is now parted: we are come to our winter-quarters. John Greenwood and I are in this city, (Bruges,) and brothers Clements and Evans are in Ghent."-Wesley's Works, vol. i., p. 475.
addition. A regiment which marched from this place to Oudenarde, having about eight of this Society in it, has been highly favoured ; insomuch that the number is upwards of forty, in the space of eight weeks : so boundless is the free grace of God to a rebellious army! And, though I am sensible you cannot be ignorant of our proceedings, and what opposition this doctrine of justification by faith alone meets with in a Romish country, by reason of many natives speaking English tolerably well, -as also the number of the British Romish Clergy who are residing in Flanders, yet our Saviour crowns us with wonderful success, insomuch that our Chaplains are turned our persecutors; and the scourge of their tongues is constant. But the roaring lion is obliged to quit the field, and give way to the Lion of the tribe of Judah. I am lost in admiration that such a poor, unworthy, illiterate wretch as I should be made the first instrument in so glorious a work. Yet, thanks be to my exalted Saviour, my strength is still proportioned to my day, and I find my faith daily stronger. The house of Saul is waxing weaker ; but the house of David prospers and flourishes. How shall I praise my God for all His mercies unto me!
We received the books you sent us, and are bound to pray for you, which is the most suitable return we can make. In the meantime we desire the prayers of all the children of God under your care. Sister Thompson is safe arrived, and we rejoice to hear of the glorious success of the Gospel in our native country. In my last letter but one, I made mention of my being pressed in spirit to come over to England; but there is no possibility of my getting a discharge, though I am persuaded the Lord has something for me to do there. What to do in it I cannot tell, but shall wait your advice.
My dear brothers, let me entreat you to favour me with a letter, which may be (through the blessing of God) a means to establish and confirm this little branch of the church.
Your unworthy brother,
P.S. I have been sore chastened by sickness ; but it has pleased the Lord to raise me up again.—Since this wonderful work begun in the army, the Lord has raised up six labourers in His vineyard besides myself,—-one of whom has been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. But it has pleased the Lord to cast down all his worldly wisdom, and to take away the fear of man from him ; so that he now preaches free grace boldly, though he writes all his sermons.* To the Rev. Mr. John or Charles Wesley at the Foundery, near Upper
* Prior to his embarkation for Flanders, in June, 1742, the writer of this letter says,—"I had the happiness of hearing Mr. Charles Wesley preach at Brentford. When the service was over, I had a great desire of speaking to him. He gave me much encouragement. His words sunk deep, and were a great blessing to me, for several years after.”-Short Account, edit. 1785, p. 11.
*** Under the head of “ Methodism in former Days,” in the April Number, the death of the worthy Vicar of Quinton is erroneously said to have occurred in 1750. Mr. Myles is the authority quoted. The true date is June 20th, 1772.
ON THE HISTORY OF WITCHCRAFT. At a late Meeting of the British Archäological Association, held on the banks of the Lune, a paper on this subject was read by Mr. Thomas Wright ;—“very appropriately,” says one of the Journalists, “ near the locality of the Pendlebury crones, and among their successors the sorceresses of the present day.” Some of our readers, though inspired with no remarkable passion for the “night-side ” of things, may be interested in seeing the results, briefly put, of that gentleman's inquiries. These relate to an important chapter, though a most strange and gloomy one, in the history of human delusions and cruelties. In applying these terms, we shall be understood to refer. to that notion of witchcraft which cannot claim a more-than-mediæval antiquity, and which seems to have drawn its ghastly and terrific hues from the wild mythology of the northern nations. In our happier days it will startle many to hear that, according to a careful computation, capital punishment was inflicted in the United Kingdom, during a period of not more than one hundred and fifty years, on 30,000 persons charged with this crime !-Edit.
The materials which contribute to our knowledge of history are extensive beyond what is usually imagined; and they are not always the less important because they appear minute or trifling. The antiquary derives knowledge from the very refuse which our forefathers threw from them as worthless ; and the reader who would properly comprehend their history ought to be acquainted even with their popular superstitions. When we read that King Richard turned the popular feeling against his brother's Queen by accusing her of sorcery, and exhibited, as a proof, his arm,
“Like a blasted sapling, wither'd up;” when we hear of a Duchess of Gloucester thrown ignominiously into a dungeon for life, because she had made use of witchcraft ; when, again, we are told of the most powerful order of knights in the world—the Templars -persecuted, broken, and dispersed, upon charges which would now only provoke a sneer ; events like these must be totally incomprehensible to us, unless we are acquainted with the history of those superstitions by which all classes were influenced at different periods with more or less force.
Witchcraft was founded in a universal belief in a middle class of spiritual beings, who had power over the elements and over human affairs, and whose agency might be bought by offerings, or commanded by charms. This was especially strong among the early Teutonic nations of Western Europe ; and it was a further article of their popular belief, that womankind was more easily brought into connexion with this spiritual world than the other sex. Priestesses were the favourite agents of the deities in the ages of Saxon Paganism : they knew the effects of charms; the qualities, noxious or beneficial, of herbs or animals, or other articles, and how to secure them ; for these were supposed to be given immediately by spiritual beings, when under the power of their invocations. Hence the Teutonic women became prophetesses, foretellers of future events, warners of danger, healers of wounds and diseases, conciliators of love, sometimes averters of calamities, at others workers of vengeance ; and, as in those wild and passionate ages the latter feeling too frequently prevailed, women who had recourse to such expedients, and who were often of the highest
rank, became naturally objects of dread. Examples are not uncommon in the history and romance of the Teutonic people, before, and for some time after, their conversion to Christianity,
The Gospel, indeed, in its first introduction, destroyed the gods of the old creed ; but it left the belief in this middle class of spirits and in their power, merely inculcating the doctrine that they were spirits of evil,fallen angels who had been condemned to wander on earth, jealous of the happiness of mankind, and ever seeking to work them harm. As the influence of Christianity advanced, people were taught that they were demons. Many were outwardly Christians, who in secret addressed their invocations to the spirits in whom they had been accustomed to place their trust. Even Christian Monks and Priests were not free from many superstitious practices which were condemned by the Church as relics of heathendom.
The crime of witchcraft seems to have been very common among our Anglo-Saxon forefathers; and, as in the times of their Paganism, it appears to have been exercised most generally by women in the better classes of society. Places, hallowed as the sites of their worship in earlier and darker times, were still supposed to be haunted by the spirits who had formerly presided over them; and the Anglo-Saxon sorceress went to offer up her vows at the ruined fane, or in the lonely and unfrequented glen. The old worship naturally remained longest in the wilder and more thinly inhabited parts of the country, and these became known as the peculiar haunts of the evil spirits. Wherever we can trace back the history of spots which were notorious in later times as the meeting-places of the witches,—the scenes of their “Sabbath,”—I believe that we shall find them to have been the sites of this worship, or of some peculiar reverence among the ancient pagan population.
Among the Anglo-Saxons, witchcraft appears not to have been a crime against the law, except where it was joined with some offence against the person. It was classed by the Church among acts of heathendom, and a proportionate penance was enjoined on those who had sufficient respect to the Church to submit to its decision. Others invoked the demons, as they were called, with impunity; and the Saxon annalists furnish us with instances even of Queens who repaired to the solitary wood, to obtain by such practices vengeance against their personal enemies.
Immediately after the Norman conquest we find that the practice of witchcraft was in general confined to women of a lower grade. But accidental circumstances, and the interference of a higher intelligence for temporary objects, came repeatedly to raise into new importance superstitions which might otherwise have died gradually away.
In the eleventh and twelfth centuries a general intellectual movement came throughout Europe, to alarm the Church of the middle ages ; and it conjured up spectres on every side, in the shape of a host of heresies. Proscribed sects, in ages when it was death to differ with the Established Church, naturally courted concealment and held their assemblies in the strictest privacy, often seeking to avoid observation by meeting in wild and solitary places. This secrecy easily gave rise to malicious reports; and the Church, in its hatred of heresies, spread and encouraged the belief that these secret meetings were the scenes of impious worship and horrible vices. Popes and Councils culled everything that was impious and disgusting, to father upon these Church-reformers of the middle ages; and they proceeded at once to identify them with the popular witches. Then